WEF's 2022 core message—Together we stand, divided we fall
Stephen Ndegwa


Editor's note: Stephen Ndegwa is a Nairobi-based communication expert, lecturer-scholar at the United States International University-Africa, author and international affairs columnist. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Why would the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Schwab make an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping to make a special address at WEF 2022? Well, the answer would be rather obvious to watchers of global development.   

In every continent, China is engaged in various forms of cooperation ranging from trade to diplomacy. Consequently, it understands the challenges and needs of many regions and has discussed ways of meeting them using new ways. This is particularly so for the developing countries who have benefited immensely from Sino-partnerships. 

China's global partnerships are aligned to WEF's areas of focus, including political, economic, social, and environmental issues which affect the global economy. Therefore, President Xi's input in such an eminent forum is invaluable. As a developing country but also the second largest economy in the world, China enjoys the conveniences of wealth while also enduring the rigors of vigilance. 

According to Chinese zodiac, 2022 is a year of the Tiger. Usually, the tiger denotes bravery, great confidence and indomitable fortitude, which is the attitude required to face the world's apparently insurmountable challenges.  

President Xi's virtual address from Beijing to the WEF on January 17 was based on the urgent need to build back the global economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic's battering. "Forge ahead with confidence and fortitude to jointly create a better post-COVID world" was apt.

China has been walking the talk on combating COVID-19 both at home and overseas. The country has donated billions of vaccines, the bulk of which have been destined to developing countries who do not yet have the capacity to produce their own. Developed countries must also play their duty by ensuring that they adjust their economic policies in ways that do not stifle or damage the vulnerable economies.  

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a special address at the 2022 World Economic Forum virtual session, in Beijing, China, January 17, 2022. /Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a special address at the 2022 World Economic Forum virtual session, in Beijing, China, January 17, 2022. /Xinhua

Like in Xi's previous speeches at global forums, he appealed for consensus, rebuilding trust, cooperation and finding solutions for urgent global problems. The point is that while the pandemic could be manageable or eradicated in the medium to long term, it exacerbated prevailing social, economic and environmental problems. It also created problems that hitherto did not exist, posing new challenges for humanity. 

The current predicament is not about rich or poor countries. The serious interruption of supply chains and cessation of physical movement abroad shows the disruptive nature of COVID-19. No country or even region can solve the challenges on its own to the exclusion of other countries. It is only through concerted effort that the world can mobilize both the best efforts and resources to address its issues and overcome its challenges.

The WEF is a forum of the global elites whose membership includes both private and public sector mandarins, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, celebrities and workers' representatives. This is a microcosm of the machine creating and driving the world's agenda in almost all fields of governance. Their views are, therefore, seen as pertinent to the future.  

Xi's analogy puts the foregoing in perspective: "Facts have shown once again that amidst the raging torrents of a global crisis, countries are not riding separately in some 190 small boats, but are rather all in a giant ship on which our shared destiny hinges."

Formed in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WEF has offices in New York, Beijing, Tokyo, San Francisco and Mumbai. Experts say that it is now time to add an African office in order to complete the global stakeholder forum. As China can attest from its partnership with the continent, Africa holds a lot of promise for the world’s future and should be given a bigger role.

The pandemic is also an opportunity for exploring new horizons and finding new ways of solving old problems. Ambitious and creative global projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have not only given new impetus to economic development, but also made many countries resilient to the pandemic by helping to overcome the limitations of time and distance. Indeed, the BRI is crucial in facilitating economic globalization, which in turn will help in enhancing human development.

We are all in this together in all ways. The WEF should serve as an annual audit of how we are progressing and whether we are heading in the right direction as human beings. 

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